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Game 10: A Real Southeast Shootout

Wow, these hockey games are coming along fast and furious. Four games in six nights, plus the World Series (go Tigers!), my work and other social is hard for a blogger to stay on top of things. Anyway, here's my Carolina comments and I should have the Philly game review up this evening. Last night I saw Elf Power play at the Criminal Records Birthday party--what does this have to do with a hockey blog? Nothing, really other than the fact that they has so many people (seven) on stage for that I started thinking they could challenge the band Sound Team (six members) to a hockey game if they wanted.

OK, on to the Carolina game. Well it featured a real mix of goals in a wild 5-4 OT loss. There were your fluky goals, old fashioned hard work tallies, awesome redirections, nice odd man breaks and defensemen pinching all the way to the crease. Despite all the goals scored the game also featured some fantastic saves by both net-minders.

In the bad old days the Thrashers would have given up 5 goals because of mind numbing defensive gaffs or not-ready-for-primetime goaltending. But after reviewing each and every scoring play it is clear to me that much of the scoring resulted from the great speed and skill both teams bring to the table.

OK, let's get on to the goals.

List of Heroes
ATL GF 1: Put this one down to hard work and a LOTS of good luck as the checking line puts one in on their first shift of the game. Larsen attempts a shot on goal from the right side that misses wide but the puck goes over to Boulton of the left wing side who barely makes contact but the puck slides past Ward who had come way out of the net to face Larsen's shot.

ATL GF 2: Sim buries one from the slot between the hash marks as the defense moves to take away Kovalchuk. He should keep getting great chances like this as long he plays on Ilya's line. Not sure why I keep seeing Sim getting bashed on some of the boards, the man has played better than I ever expected so far this season.

ATL GF 3: The line of Holik, Slater and Mellanby applied tremendous pressure in the Carolina zone and finally got a favorable bounce that Mellanby put home. De Vries also deserves some praise for a key hold at the blueline. But credit this one to plain old hard work.

ATL GF 4: Kovalchuk makes a terrific deflection of a Rucchin shot to tie the game and earn the Thrashers a point in a contest that they trailed 3-1 after 1st period.

List of Goats
CAR GF 1: This was a goal scored because of Carolina's skill at executing a two-on-one, but the replay on my DVR shows Mr. Andy Sutton turning the puck over at the offensive blueline which created this odd man rush.

CAR GF 2: Holik took a penalty and on the power play Scott Walker has a nice deflection of a Hutchinson shot from the point. Honestly, I find it hard to fault the PK unit on this one, it was a well executed power play, but if you must know it was Vishnevski's man that had the redirect. I'm inclined to blame Holik for taking the penalty in the first place.

CAR GF 3: Another late Carolina goal at the end of a period that really hurt the Thrashers. This time it was a Hutchinson slapper as he pinched in from the blueline. The Atlanta broadcasters were saying that Vishnevski got trapped by Carolina rotating in the zone but when I look at the tape I don't think that is the big problem, a Thrasher forward rotated to the front of the net and their coverage down low was fine. The problem was that the left wing let the Carolina player to give him the slip and create the odd man situation. Who was the left wing? Well I replayed this one several time because all you can see is his stick trailing behind Hutchinson most of the time, but I was finally able to determine that it was Kovalchuk.

CAR GF 4: Belanger gets off a clean shot as Kapanen turns his head and loses sight of his man, the rebound comes right to Bayda who puts it away. It was Vishnevski's man, but frankly Kari probably should take most of the blame on this one.

CAR GF 5: Your OT game winner is very similar to Hutchinson's goal as the puck goes up along the right-wing boards and then is quickly moved across to a pinching defensemen (this time Babchuk) who buries it. Guess which left-winger allowed his man to go to the net? Ilya again. Twice in one game he gets burned.

Well, I posted earlier praising Kovalchuk's new interest in playing better defense this season, but tonight it was more like the bad old Kovy defense of old. I said it before and I'll say it again that Ilya gets so much ice time and he plays in so many critical situations that if the coaches can get him to play average defense it will really help this team be more successful in the long run.

So far both games versus Carolina have featured furious comebacks after Atlanta fell behind but the Hurricanes have come out on top in both contests. So far, Carolina hasn't seen Lehtonen at his best yet as he gave up a questionable goal in each affair. Here's hoping that he shuts them down in one of the six remaining games between these two clubs.